Hong Khaou’s drama, starring Ben Whishaw, to open the BFI London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival 2014.


The 28th BFI London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival (March 20-30) is to open with the European premiere of Lilting, Hong Khaou’s cross-generational, cross-cultural drama starring Ben Whishaw and Cheng Pei Pei (Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon).

The film opened the World Cinema Dramatic Competition at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

The story centres on Richard (Ben Whishaw), who reaches out to his recently deceased partner’s mother Junn (Cheng Pei Pei), a Chinese-Cambodian woman who has never assimilated or learned English during her 20 years in London - and didn’t know her son was gay.

Lilting is produced by Dominic Buchanan, through Film London Microwave in association with BBC Films, with exec producers Stink, SUMS Film & Media and Bob & Co.

Artificial Eye will distribute in the UK and Protagonist Pictures is handling international sales.

The film marks UK-based Hong Khaou’s debut feature, following two successful shorts which both previously played at the LLGFF. The cinematography, by Ula Pontikos (Weekend), won an award at Sundance.

Hong Khaou said: “I’m so thrilled Lilting will be opening the LLGFF. It’s a wonderful film festival to kick off our home and European premiere. It feels like a prefect fit to have it in London and at the BFI.”

The full LLGFF programme will be released next week (Feb 19). Programmers promise 50 features, a new VOD strand through the BFI Player, an enhanced industry offer including an LGBT talent development programme, plus visiting filmmakers, events, installations and a previously unseen Derek Jarman work.

Following a wide audience consultation last year, the BFI will also announce a new name for the festival, and launch its monthly incarnation at BFI Southbank alongside releases of contemporary and archive gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender cinema on the new VoD channel. The new brand will be unveiled at the launch event.

Last year’s LLGFF recorded 22,000 attendances over 11 days, an increase of 1,000 on the 2012 festival, across 130 programmes of screenings and events.

Led by BFI head of cinemas and festivals, Clare Stewart, and BFI deputy head of festivals Tricia Tuttle, LLGFF is programmed by a team of five: Brian Robinson, Emma Smart, Jason Barker, Michael Blyth and Nazmia Jamal.